I noticed you have posted this all over the place. I can't find the one I read, which had been answered by Kooky Kookleson.
Here are my answers (hope they help)
1)What makes a great wave for Surfers?
This is a difficult question. A great wave depends on so many things. A great wave for a beginner could be 1 ft of broken whitewater that he/she manages to surf all the way to the beach. A great wave for a big wave junkie could be being towed in to a 72 ft wave 100 miles off the coast of California. A great wave is about how you feel.
If you are talking about ideal conditions you would be looking for the following. Waves that break consistently in one place, and ‘peel’ from one side to the other. The longer they peel for the better! Ideally you should be able to paddle out whilst avoiding the peak, meaning you don’t have to fight through the whitewater. The waves should come in sets of about 5 or 6 waves. Ideally there should be light breezes blowing off the land (offshore). The water should be flat between waves ie. Not choppy.
The way waves work is that they are generated by a number of factors including wind, tides, ocean conditions etc, swells build up over long distances. As a wave approaches the beach it will (hopefully) be fairly tall and moving fairly quickly. As the water below the wave gets shallower, it slows the bottom part of the wave down, but the top carries on travelling faster and it essentially trips over the bottom part causing the wave to break. If the bottom part gets slowed quickly (as in the depth of water changes very quickly, the crest of the wave will get thrown forward creating a barrel. This is why some of the better waves around the world break over rocks or reefs. For example Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii is widely considered to be one of the best breaks in the world. Here the water goes from I believe about 10-15 feet deep to suddenly hitting a reef that makes the depth nearer 30 cm. This is why the lip throws out further and huge barrels are created.
2)What are the Dangers of Surfing?
I would suggest that there are a few more dangers that perhaps Kooky suggested. There is an obvious risk of drowning. Anyone who has been surfing will have been held under by a wave and know the ‘panic’ when you don’t know which way is up! As I explained above, some of the worlds better waves break over coral reefs or rocks which presents an obvious danger, large amounts of water being thrown onto rock/reef right where you are surfing can be nasty. I saw a video where someone dropped down the face of a wave and the lip flew over and landed on his leg, snapping it in 2!
A common danger is Riptides – strong currents that pull you in different directions – normally out to sea. Although not that common there are shark attacks (surfers look like seals from below!) also, jellyfish.
A major danger in the UK is pollution. 300 Million Gallons of raw or partially treated sewage are discharged into the ocean around the UK EVERY DAY! I once had a gastric infection for 3 weeks as a result of surfing! Surfers are particularly at risk because of the amount of time they spend in the water!
3)Which part of a wave do Surfers surf on?
I think Kooky explained this one pretty well! He didn’t mention the ‘tube’ though. One of the most intense feelings you can get is travelling along under the falling lip of the wave. It’s incredible.
4)What should you avoid while surfing?
Ideally you should avoid surfing alone. If you are with someone, they will notice if you get into trouble or go missing. If you are out there alone, you could be missing for a long time before anyone notices which could be the difference between life and death.
I agree that you should avoid conditions that are beyond you. It’s good to stretch yourself occasionally, but you will know when you are ready to try bigger/ harder conditions.
Avoid going into the water cold. Most surfers don’t but you should stretch before surfing. Anyone who has had cramp whilst swimming or surfing will agree. Surfing puts a lot of stress on muscles and joints, so care should always be taken and 5 mins stretching could save a lot of pain.
5)What are the characteristics of a good wave?
I think this has been covered
6)Whats the difference between a Longboard and Short?
As well as what Kooky said, there are more differences. Although longer boards are better for beginners, it is not necessarily a natural progression to move to a shorter board. In fact you will notice that as surfers go out in bigger waves, the boards tend to get longer! People surfing 20ft at Waimea in Hawaii will be on bigger boards than people surfing 6 ft in France!
Longboarding is a different discipline of surfing that has a world tour in its own right. It is a more mellow form of surfing with essentially a different set of rules. Long sweeping turns, walking up and down the board, switching which foot is forward are all the order of the day. It takes a lot more skill/ effort to move a longboard around on a wave and you have to plan your turns a lot earlier. Check out a longboard video – you may be surprised what they can do.
Hope all this helps